BACH Concerto in d after Marcello, BWV 974. MOZART Piano Sonata in C, K 330. RAVEL La valse. SCRIABIN 2 Poems, op. 32. Waltz, op. 38. Vers la flamme. WILD Virtuoso Etudes after Gershwin: The Man I Love; Embraceable You. GERSHWIN Girl Crazy: I Got Rhythm. Prelude No. 1 • Xiayin Wang (pn) • MARQUIS 81369 (61:46)
Scriabin’s op. 32/2 contains the marking con fiducia—with confidence. And if there’s one quality that marks this recital, it’s Wang’s youthful confidence: not arrogance, not self-importance, not haughtiness, but a sense of poise that gives an unpretentious clarity to all of this music. Wang’s tone is not huge (certainly, her Vers la flamme doesn’t match Horowitz’s for sheer mass). But she does coax a great deal ofRead more refined color from the instrument (the Scriabin is especially rich in timbre), and her technique is unfazed even by Ravel’s extravagant demands, made all the more extravagant by Wang’s own textual decisions.
Not surprisingly, given the post-Romantic slant of the album, her Bach is on the pianistic side, especially in the haunting account of the second movement. Similarly, her Mozart—shorn of repeats—is more notable for suppleness than for Classical astringency. But while her warm-hearted readings appear little influenced by period-performance practice, there’s nothing maudlin here—warmth never degenerates into slush.
That said, I suspect that most readers will find the 20th-century music to be even more attractive—her elastically phrased, velvet-toned Ravel, which builds to a kaleidoscopic climax; her ecstatic performance of the Scriabin Waltz; her glowering Vers la flamme; and, perhaps best of all, her impassioned accounts of two of Earl Wild’s etudes on Gershwin. Wang speaks in her interview about the importance of “discipline,” but it’s clear from these performances that she’s referring to the kind of discipline that liberates, not the kind that enslaves. For while the playing never seems approximate, it nearly always feels spontaneous.
The sound is excellent too—and although there are no notes about the music, I suspect that the pianophiles most likely to be attracted by this recital don’t really need them. All in all, a succulent introduction to a pianist well worth watching.